Volvo's new XC60 is the latest addition to the increasingly popular crossover market segment, and Volvo Car Ireland tells us that it is better value than ever. The entry level price is €44,267 ex-works. It is the DRIVe XC60 S 2.4D manual variant with CO2 emissions of 159g/km. And it slots in to Band D tax, which adds up to an appealing package. Oh, and it also offers best-in-class fuel consumption too.
My test car was an SE manual version featuring black sapphire metallic paint, leather seats, and 18" Mantus alloy wheels. It also had some optional extras such as rear parking assist and a winter pack.
Just to remind you that the 'DRIVe' badge is awarded to cars in the Volvo range that have the best environmental performance in their class. All today's DRIVe models are equipped with a conventional diesel engine and manual gearbox optimised for extra-low fuel consumption. Volvo tells us that these cars are also tailored specifically for low rolling resistance and reduced air drag.
The XC60 isn't all about economy and 'eco' pluses. For instance it achieved five stars in recent Euro NCAP crash tests and in the appeal stakes, it looks fantastic.
But getting back to the start/stop technology. It can reduce fuel consumption and thus carbon dioxide emissions by 4-5 per cent in mixed driving conditions. It is particularly effective in urban traffic, when the saving may be as much as 8 per cent.
While the car is at a standstill and the engine is switched off, some electronic systems such as the air conditioning step down to standby level in order to save fuel.
However, the start/stop system continuously monitors the comfort level and automatically reactivates the relevant systems if for instance the temperature increases in the passenger compartment. The system does not set any limits for comfort-enhancing features such as the sound system or other facilities that the customer wants to maintain.
This monitoring system, which is specific to Volvo models, and the resultant high comfort level have been made possible owing to an additional small battery that supports the larger battery by providing extra power. Thanks to this extra battery, Volvo's DRIVe models also feature particularly quick and smooth start-up and the audio system, for instance, remains totally unaffected when the starter motor is activated.
The driver continuously receives feedback about system status via the in-car information display. The start/stop function can be engaged and disengaged via a special DRIVe button in the centre console. In the default setting, the function is activated. Volvo says that in the future, this special DRIVe button will also regulate additional systems such as the economy settings for particularly fuel-efficient performance that are on the way in forthcoming models.
The XC60 is a really nice car. And thankfully Volvo has retained the sporty driving properties that are a central part of this car’s attraction. More horsepower, higher torque, and a sporty chassis setting all help give this version the right XC60 dynamics.
In addition to front-wheel drive, a number of minor improvements all help deliver the new model's competitive fuel consumption and CO2 figures.
The gear ratios have been optimised so the car can be driven economically. For instance, when driving at 100 km/h in top gear, engine revs and thus also fuel consumption are lower with the new powertrain. But the beauty of it is, you get all these improvements without compromising on driving pleasure.
To demonstrates the wide appeal that this car has, the XC60 took first prize in the Family Car of the Year category in the first-ever Women's World Car of the Year competition. Nice one Volvo!